Last night, I started to think about my clients life and how I interact with it. As an inspector, my contacts with the consumer are fewer than a Realtors, so I try to make sure that there is a connection. I love to read marketing books, but mainly I call upon my experiences with other firms to develop my ideas.
There was a regional manager who was not well liked by those under serving under him. He had a belief that applying duress to your work would make you a better manager. He was quick to insult, and with his nearly seven feet, he was quick to become physical. You might think that he would not offer much to help us with marketing to customers, but he did have a particular habit that I have adopted: note taking. He kept a little black book with information about his managers. Every time he found out a tidbit, he scribbled it down in his book. Before he went anywhere to meet with a manager, he read his notes, so he could speak to them about their lives. On my contact form, I have left a space on the bottom of the sheet for own note taking. It is surprising how much information our clients reveal, and how delighted they are when you bring it up in conversation.
Having read a few posts here where bloggers here in the Rain have complained about their clients (which may or may not be entirely justified), I started thinking what might be on the other side of the coin. Have you ever read the book Miramar Cafe by the Egyptian author Mahfouz? Salma Hayek starred in a Mexican film version of this work, and it is great for illustrating my current point. The book and film deals with a series of events in the lives of two families. There are four sections providing the perspective of each person involved in those events. Each person has a very different idea about what is going on. I realized that my perception of the events in my contacts with clients could be viewed quite at odds from others.
I came to realize that an exit interview may be a good tool in my marketing efforts. I look back with my interactions with the Realtor who helped me buy my current home. (This may seem negative, but I liked him, and I would recommend him to others, so please keep that in mind). During our time together, he did find out some facts about my family’s lives, but he made it obvious that he wanted another client out of me. He focused on my grandmother and brother who he hoped to gain as clients. There was a problem at my closing, but it was manufactured by him. He needed to go to a funeral in another town, but he did not inform me of that fact, so he was pushing others involved to have the closing on a specific day. I was told about the funeral from my mortgage broker, who was mad at him. I would have understood, but I was left with a bad feeling because I literally had to drive around town to organize paperwork for the closing. At the Title company, he made it clear that the arrangements for his pay were important. Since closing, the only times that I have had a contact from him in person has been to ask for a donation for some charity that he has been working on.
What would happen with an exit interview?I ask my clients about how they found me. If it was an internet search, I ask about the terms that they used. If they have seen my site, I ask what they thought of it. I also ask about my inspection. Do they have any questions about what happened. Are there any concerns? I try to gage how they feel about my performance. I use this data to help me improve my service and marketing. This leaves an impression of concern with my clients, which leads to referrals. However, I gain knowledge about what is working in my marketing, and sometimes I gain insights from them on how to make it better.
Such interviews need not be formal. In fact a casual chat after all is said and done may be the best way to obtain information. It is a great time to correct any false views of events too. You may wish to develop your own exit interview plan.